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Glory Glory? Ban Man United


For years, the Anyone But United (ABU) contingent railed against the 1999 treble winners’ decision to head to the FIFA world club championship in Brazil. The ABU crew claimed that United were putting personal glory ahead of “the game” and thought nothing of sacrificing the integrity of the FA Cup on the way toward world domination.

Well off the mark.

The United apologists insisted that it was the FA who insisted the defending Cup champions go off to compete in the fledgling international tournament, fearing that parent body FIFA would look poorly on a refusal, and take it out on England’s 2006 World Cup bid.

Close, but not quite.

Finally, after 10 years of heavy investigation, the truth is revealed. As it turns out, the FA wanted to nudge United away from the competition because they realised that United + Cup final = terrible, boring game. The FA simply wanted to save us from the excruciating pain of any more United Wembley (or Millennium Stadium) performances. You don’t have to dig too deep in the dossier to find proof of fan torment at the hands of the Red Devils.

Clearly, the least appealing match of United’s magical May in ’99 was the FA Cup final. In the last league game of the season, with everything to play for, United pulled out a thrilling come from behind 2-1 victory over Spurs to ensure the title went north. Even in the dying moments of that match, Spurs provided a bevy of heart-in-mouth moments for United fans. The Champions’ League final was the stuff of folklore; a finish so fantastic Hollywood would reject it as too far-fetched. The FA Cup final victory over Newcastle, however, was the thorn between two roses. Sheringham scored 11 minutes in, Newcastle continued to perform like they were playing for a nil draw, and United put together a functional, far from flashy 2-0 win. Ho hum. Even the on-pitch celebrations were muted with the feeling that this was just a step towards a bigger prize.

Unfortunately, The FA couldn’t keep Manchester United out of the FA Cup forever, and football fans have paid for it ever since.

The next Red Devil Cup final appearance was in 2004 when United beat Cinderella team Millwall 3-0 in the final. While the scoreline might indicate an entertaining affair, it was anything but. Hoping for a fairy tale ending, United spoiled the show for the average fan. Millwall never had a chance and United picked them apart with clinical (re: passionless) precision.

The next year found United back in a Cup final billed as a true “clash of the titans”. Arsenal was the opponent, and these two fierce rivals had a habit of eventful clashes over the years. Fans were treated to a classic – a classic dud that is. After 120 minutes of tedious football, Jens Lehmann stopped Paul Scholes’ shootout effort to win the least entertaining Cup final ever.

The year 2006 put together a match of similar proportions to the Millwall final, as Manchester United took on Wigan in a 4-0 League Cup final romp. It was never a competitive affair and is more known (among those who can remember it) as the match where Giggs told off a showboating Ronaldo and Ruud Van Nistelrooy decided his future lied outside northern England.

United’s last FA Cup appearance (2007) again let imaginations run wild; the first final in the new Wembley, Mourinho vs. Fergie, and a double on the cards for the league champions. All of this build-up was deflated by a stultifying affair that went down in history as a strong contender for second-worst final ever. Thankfully, Didier Drogba put the game out of its misery moments before fans had to grumble their way through more penalty shots.

The 2007 Community Shield was another cautious affair against Chelsea. With the exception of 2 goals in 10 minutes, fans endured another slow 120 minutes. An error-filled shootout. Fans immediately turn attention to next week’s fixtures.

The 2008 Community Shield against Portsmouth was yet another stalled effort. Both clubs played disjointed football. No goals. 120 minutes of life fans will never get back error-filled shootout. Fans immediately turn attention to next week’s fixtures.

Now, we’re a few days removed from another forgettable Manchester United final. No goals. 120 minutes of mire. Cue errors in shootout…. I could have seen four goals in an enthralling match between Stoke and Villa!

Fans immediately turn attention to midweek fixtures.

It’s a shame that one of the most successful and entertaining clubs in world football puts together such painfully boring cup performances. For the sake of football as we know it, United need to be banned from trips of Wembley. In this age of precarious financial deals and a society that demands instant gratification, football can’t afford any more cures for insomnia in the form of Manchester United cup finals.

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  1. Steven

    April 25, 2009 at 8:07 am

    Penalty shootout? I think they are unfair. u play so well and end up losing on penalties. it sucks

  2. Giggsy

    March 6, 2009 at 3:38 am

    You complain when we win and when we go to penalties… I think you are jealous

  3. Vivek

    March 5, 2009 at 11:49 pm

    Crap article !
    I bet you support loserpool,most boring team ever!
    United are class and ABUs like you should respect their achievements.. You can’t slag them off like this! Ridiculous!

  4. JIBBA

    March 5, 2009 at 7:54 pm


  5. ronny

    March 5, 2009 at 6:31 pm

    Manchester united is the best football club of the world………..and that’s why some people tend to get jealous……………thats right Fred Johnny…..ABU is jealous…..!!

  6. ronny

    March 5, 2009 at 6:25 pm

    this is totally horrible………..i mean this is wrong. this has never happened..manutd has always put up a fabulous performance for their fans throughout the world no matter what sort of importance that match had……….!!

  7. Fredorrarci

    March 5, 2009 at 11:13 am

    Great post, Scott. Sensible planning for a brighter tomorrow!

  8. Fred Johnny

    March 5, 2009 at 7:13 am

    If MU plays boring finals then they they should lose as the other team is better. But it doesn’t work that way. Manchester is the best club in the world. STOP YOUR JELOUSY ABU!!!!!!!!

  9. Charlie

    March 5, 2009 at 5:27 am

    Wow. All I can say is… LOL!

  10. s

    March 5, 2009 at 4:54 am

    funniest post I have read today

  11. MM

    March 5, 2009 at 3:38 am

    What the …. eh? No logic to this article. Not worthy of being posted on this website.

  12. Joshua Mathews

    March 5, 2009 at 12:54 am

    Totally bullsh*t article . Even from a neutral point of view. “The Game” ,
    ” Passionless” ? Which century do you live in ? Name any team that has not done what united have done ? No Professional team on the face of this planet is playing for “The Game” so i find your article utter bullsh*t smelling of bias. But then again , you re the ABU so its not your fault. Your sheer jealousy has fogged your thinking capabilities.
    It is nt united ‘s fault when any decent team cant play and reach the F.A cup final.It damn as well isnt united s fault if all it gets to face in a cup final is a 3 rd division team . It is rather the incompetence of the other teams that United were left to face Milwall ( whom i give a thumbs up for their performance up til the final)

    You need some prozac .

  13. Olegend20

    March 5, 2009 at 12:49 am

    “Finally, after 10 years of heavy investigation, the truth is revealed. As it turns out, the FA wanted to nudge United away from the competition because they realised that United + Cup final = terrible, boring game.”

    What’s the source of this ‘truth’? One of the English tabloids?

  14. Ben

    March 5, 2009 at 12:10 am

    Ah, yes, the ’99 Cup Final wasn’t football’s most exciting moment . . . but arguably, United’s semi-final replay match against Arsenal that same year was.

  15. Athena

    March 4, 2009 at 10:24 pm

    I’m soory. What are you on about? This a typical ABU article. Its not United’s fault in the 99 Final that Newcastle were playing like it was a league match, like you said they were playing for a draw. In the game against Millwall you are saying that United spoilled the show with winning 3-0, what would have said if that was against one of the big four like it was in 2007. Teams should not expect to have 10 men behind the ball jusst so they can go to penalties because in the end class will tell.

  16. Dan

    March 4, 2009 at 9:41 pm

    Total rubbish, if teams don’t come out and play and keep 10 men behind the ball, it’s not United’s fault

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